Orange Watch: Dissecting “Shafe” Part 2: “Welcome to the ACC”

Shafer was animated against Clemson

Item: As we wrote just over a month ago, Scott Shafer continues to keep it real in describing his latest episode of wearing his emotions not only on his sleeve, but on his entire body, mouth included.

Nothing escapes those ever-prying cameras both in the everyday world in which we live and certainly when it comes to sports TV broadcast coverage. With every major game on TV and/or online there’s an overload of cameras seemingly covering each and every angle, nook and cranny, and there’s even second and third screen options to watch “exclusive” angles not seen on the main broadcast on Smart TVs, tablets and the like.

Shafer was animated against Clemson

So it was no surprise, and good TV directing, that the ESPN cameras had the clear footage of Coach Shafer’s profane-laced reaction to Clemson’s Dabo Swinney electing to eschew a chip-shot FG and instead go for it, and subsequently fail, on fourth and goal from the SU 5-yard line with 0:14 left in the first half of last Saturday’s 49-14 romp in the program’s inaugural ACC game in the Dome, with the Tigers already dominating 35-7.

» Related: Clemson routs Syracuse

In just his fifth game running the show, his squad getting beaten down by a team with a legitimate shot to play in the BCS title game that had just tried to score its sixth first-half TD, Shafe let it rip in a five second tirade of expletives with a field level camera capturing every word.

“F*** you, Dabo, you motherf***er. F*** you,” Shafer angrily yelled across the field in Swinney’s direction his neck veins practically bursting at the seams.

Within minutes the Twitter universe was abuzz and a short while later a GIF that was clearly lip-readable, had gone viral.

By the time he got to the postgame media room, and it was longer than normal, the SU coach following his usual perfunctory opening remarks to the media, athletic department staff, and his family members of all ages looking on, was ready to come clean.

“The other thing is football is an emotional sport. Anybody who knows me, I’m extremely emotional, sometimes over the top,” Shafer humbly confessed. “You know, I said a few things out there today that I feel bad about. I really do.”

“In the heat of the moment it’s the same things I said on the basketball court or football field when I was a kid playing. But I’m an adult now and I need to constrain myself a little bit better. It won’t change the way I feel, we’ll fight the good fight just like we want our kids to.”

The not-so-funny aspect about Shafer’s initial reaction to Clemson’s strategy is that Swinney was well within his rights to try and take a 42-7 lead into the locker room even with 30 minutes left to play. Stranger occurrences have happened in college football comebacks and if nothing else, the sooner an insurmountable lead was intact with less game clock, the sooner Swinney could start liberally substituting in his second-stringers as he eyes bigger games down the road.

» Related: What we learned from the loss

Afterwards, following a sincere midfield handshake between the two coaches, Swinney was surprised to hear of Shafer’s rant about his second quarter strategy (“Were we supposed to take a knee?”), and indeed the brief show of life by the ‘Cuse in the third quarter only backed up Swinney’s thinking to keep scoring touchdowns before halftime.

Rightfully or not, when you play a top-three ranked team and you compete in one of the five AQ conferences there’s no time to whine about getting piled on in the first half of a game, it comes with the territory.

We chalk up this outburst as simply part of who Scott Shafer is, an emotional football coach going to bat for the kids in the program he’s building, caught up in his emotions by one of those ubiquitous TV cameras for all to see.

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About Brad Bierman 766 Articles
Now in his sixth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.